Nuclear in Jordan

الأربعاء 16 آذار 2011

By Khaled Irani

After what is happening in Japan with the nuclear reactors, Jordanians interested in the environment started discussing Jordan’s nuclear plans on facebook and twitter. Nuclear energy is part of the energy mix stated in the national energy strategy prepared 2007. By 2020 Jordan is supposed to have a different energy mix, with a 10% contribution from renewable energy, 14% from oil shale, 7% from nuclear, and the rest from further oil and gas local explorations and import.

To date, the different energy options have reached different progress levels. Special laws for nuclear and renewables have been adopted, concession agreements for oil shale have been granted, and more institutional set ups have been introduced to make those targets happen…etc.

The questions being raised include:

Is it safe to have nuclear power plants? Is it expensive to invest in renewables, is it practical?

I don’t have all the answers, however I believe those questions should be raised and more, such as: do we have enough water for the nuclear option? Have we looked at the environmental issues? How about the financing? Does the government need to subsidize for both options? Have we done proper cost benefit analysis for all the options? Have we looked at the timing of each option and when it will be available? And is that linked to the expected demand? Is there enough land available to erect wind mills? And will there be issues concerning noise pollution and biodiversity? Have we looked at the grid and potential added costs for the different options? And I am sure many more questions are raised.

Those questions, that I know from my previous role, have been partly answered or are still to be answered by experts and consultants. I dont see a problem in that. Where I see a problem is in the weak or maybe the lack of proper and institutionalized debates. Where is the right forum institutionally to do that? The government should also take the lead to open the debate, in addition to providing regular information for the public.

The only legislation available in Jordan that asks for public participation is the environmental impact assessment bylaw. We need national polices and legislation that encourages more of that.

This coming week, two sessions on nuclear will be held. One of them is organized by EDAMA, at the Princess Sumaya University for Technology. I thank them for that as I thank Dr. Toukan and other panalists for joining the debate. Looking forward to moderate that.

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